North Summit High is naming football field in honor of Chief Washakie

Sep 29, 2021, 7:06 PM | Updated: 7:08 pm
A statue in front of North Summit High School.  North Summit has renamed its football field in hono...
A statue in front of North Summit High School. North Summit has renamed its football field in honor of Chief Washakie. Photo: North Summit High School, Twitter.)

COALVILLE, Utah — A special tribute to one of the Native American tribal leaders that formed this state.  North Summit High School is naming  its football field in honor of a well-known leader of the Eastern Shoshone tribe – Chief Washakie.  Some of his descendants say it’s a great honor, and they applaud the school for doing it.

The football field at North Summit High School has never been named.  District Superintendent Jerre Holmes says they wanted to give the field a name when he served as principal there, but, it just didn’t work out.

Holmes said, “We were going to name the field then, and we took a lot of ideas from people, and nothing really seemed to stick.”

However, that changed when someone suggested the name Washakie Field, in honor of Chief Washakie of the Eastern Shoshone tribe, and the name seemed like a great fit.  Holmes says they learned a lot about Washakie during this naming process. He describes the tribal leader as a friend to the settlers of Summit County while also being a fierce protector of the Eastern Shoshone.

Holmes says they reached out to the current leaders of the tribe. And educators realized they had to make other changes to the school.

“We have already gotten rid of some things that maybe wouldn’t be seen as respectful by them, as far as a school mascot,” he said.

For instance, the school stopped doing the tomahawk chop, since that was a false characterization of what Native Americans did.  He also says they learned about the importance of feathers among the Eastern Shoshone. So they changed the feathers’ colors to better represent the tribe’s beliefs.

However, the school is keeping “The Braves” as its mascot, and Washakie descendent George Abeyta says the tribe fully supports the school’s decision.

Abeyta said, “The reason we’re on board is because they’re taking the proper steps to follow protocols to honor our people rather than shame them or disgrace them in any way.”

Abeyta says many communities believe they’re paying tributes to Native American tribes, but they don’t consult tribal leaders before they do so.  However, he says that’s not the case with North Summit High School.  He believes naming a school’s field after Washakie is a very appropriate tribute.

“It was Washakie who said, ‘Education is the new weapon my people will need to protect our resources.’  So, he was also a promoter of education,” he said.

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North Summit High is naming football field in honor of Chief Washakie